In Him, Religion and Ethics Are Never Separated


Jesus is an example not merely for the relations of man to man but also for the relation of man to God; imitation of Him may extend and must extend to the sphere of religion as well as to that of ethics. Indeed religion and ethics in Him were never separated; no single element in His life can be understood without reference to His heavenly Father. Jesus was the most religious man who ever lived; He did nothing and said nothing and thought nothing without the thought of God.

If His example means anything at all it means that a human life without the conscious presence of God–even though it be a life of humanitarian service outwardly like the ministry of Jesus–is a monstrous perversion. If we would follow truly in Jesus’ steps, we must obey the first commandment as well as the second that is like unto it; we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.

The difference between Jesus and ourselves serves only to enforce, certainly not to invalidate, the lesson. If the One to whom all power was given needed refreshment and strengthening in prayer, we more; if the One to whom the lilies of the field revealed the glory of God yet went into the sanctuary, surely we need such assistance even more than He; if the wise and holy One could say “Thy will be done,” surely submission is yet more in place for us whose wisdom is as the foolishness of children.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Kindle Edition)

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